A grand narrative that examines the power of music to inspire beauty in a world overrun with fear and intolerance, it’s...

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ECHO

A multilayered novel set in turbulent times explores music’s healing power.

Sweeping across years and place, Ryan’s full-bodied story is actually five stories that take readers from an enchanted forest to Germany, Pennsylvania, Southern California, and finally New York City. Linking the stories is an ethereal-sounding harmonica first introduced in the fairy-tale beginning of the book and marked with a mysterious M. In Nazi Germany, 12-year-old Friedrich finds the harmonica in an abandoned building; playing it fills him with the courage to attempt to free his father from Dachau. Next, the harmonica reaches two brothers in an orphanage in Depression-era Pennsylvania, from which they are adopted by a mysterious wealthy woman who doesn’t seem to want them. Just after the United States enters World War II, the harmonica then makes its way to Southern California in a box of used instruments for poor children; as fifth-grader Ivy Lopez learns to play, she discovers she has exceptional musical ability. Ryan weaves these stories together, first, with the theme of music—symbolized by the harmonica—and its ability to empower the disadvantaged and discriminated-against, and then, at the novel’s conclusion, as readers learn the intertwined fate of each story’s protagonist.

A grand narrative that examines the power of music to inspire beauty in a world overrun with fear and intolerance, it’s worth every moment of readers’ time. (Historical fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-439-87402-1

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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Lively, engaging, perfectly pitched tween drama.

ENEMIES

From the Berrybrook Middle School series , Vol. 5

In this latest addition to the Berrybrook Middle School series, a girl enters a school contest for the wrong reasons—with mixed results.

Felicity Teale loves art, writing, and cosplay; she is less keen on school. In contrast to her organized, punctual, science-award–winning younger sister, Letty, Felicity has serious gaming and drawing skills but fails to complete projects. In elementary school, Felicity, who is Black, was close friends with Korean American Joseph Koh, but their middle school relationship has been complicated since super outgoing Felicity tried to pressure Joseph to socialize more. To prove to Letty that she can complete and win something, Felicity enters an entrepreneur club contest with a $1,000 prize. But Joseph also enters, partnering with someone from their gaming group and shutting Felicity out. Obsessed with winning, Felicity nixes her partner Tess’ suggestions and rejects Letty’s offer of help with the business plan. Although Felicity and Tess come up with a great idea, they fail to complete the submission on time, and Felicity’s behavior alienates Joseph and offends Tess. Felicity’s humorous, colloquial, first-person narration rings true, from her passion for gaming to her sibling rivalry to her volatile middle school relationships. With its use of emphatic text, exaggerated gestures and facial expressions, a muted color palette, and rapidly changing visual perspectives, the graphic format proves ideal for anime fan Felicity’s tale of self-acceptance, friendship, and family.

Lively, engaging, perfectly pitched tween drama. (Graphic novel. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-975312-79-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: JY

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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